Policy

Lankford Report Critiques Funds for Trolley, Dating Study

‘Clearly, this is cutting-edge research with shocking results’

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., speaks during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing in Dirksen Building on Federal Labor Relations Authority nominations on November 7, 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The federal government has spent billions of dollars since 2015 on items such as a study of refugee services in Iceland, virtual reality puppets, and expired body armor for law enforcement personnel, according to Sen. James Lankford’s third annual “waste report” released Monday.

The Oklahoma Republican used the 86-page report to criticize a variety of departments and agencies for how they used their annual appropriations during the last three fiscal years. 

Among the line items Lankford included in his waste report were:

  • a Federal Emergency Management Agency program that spent $120 million during the summer of 2017 on food banks and homeless shelters in areas not recovering from a disaster;
  • $17.2 million in Community Economic Development grants from the Health and Human Services Department for low-income individuals and families, which Lankford said was outside the purview of HHS;
  • Various projects funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission in fiscal 2017, such as $150,000 for a farmers market;
  • $1 billion in Department of Transportation funds for construction of a street car in San Diego to expand trolley service by just under 11 miles;
  • a $400,000 research grant from the National Institutes of Health to look at consumer preferences, including for online dating: “In a study conducted by the grantees, it was discovered that of those using online dating, men prefer women who are younger and thinner, women like taller men, and non-smokers do not want to date smokers,” Lanford’s report says. “Clearly, this is cutting-edge research with shocking results.”

In a press conference, Lankford called for Congress to fix its annual budget and appropriations process, suggesting a biennial budget instead of enacting agency funding every year so lawmakers would have more time to scrutinize requests. He also called for a master list of all grants being provided and proposed changes to the Senate rules so lawmakers can “debate these hard issues.”

“This book is designed to be a reminder that we have an issue with debt and deficit in America,” Lankford said.

Lankford’s report is not the only publication to detail where senators believe the federal government could spend less money. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Rand Paul, R-Ky., each typically release reports on what they believe is frivolous or wasteful government spending.  

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